Family of Cleveland man killed on video files lawsuit against Facebook

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CLEVELAND-- The family of murder victim Robert Godwin Sr. filed a lawsuit against Facebook earlier this month.

Police said Steve Stephens, 37, shot and killed Godwin on East 93rd Street in Cleveland on Easter Sunday. Stephens recorded the crime and posted video of it on his Facebook page. In a series of other live videos, he claimed to kill more people, but Cleveland police said Godwin was the only victim.

Stephens was found dead in Erie, Pennsylvania from a self-inflicted gunshot wound days after the homicide.

On Jan. 19, Godwin's family filed a suit against Facebook in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. The lawsuit accuses the social media giant of negligence, failure to warn and wrongful death.

Court documents claim Facebook has a unique relationship with each of its users, knowing behaviors, intentions and likes. The suit also states the company had an obligation to notify law enforcement when Stephens started making violent threats, but decided not to act.

According to the lawsuit, Facebook "was intentional, willful, malicious, in bad faith and in reckless disregard for the right of Mr. Godwin."

Stephens posted a video at 11:09 a.m. on April 16, 2017, stating he planned to kill. At 1:22 p.m. his account was disabled.

The family of the 74-year-old father of 10 is seeking damages on his behalf.

Facebook sent this statement to Fox 8 on Monday:

“We want people to feel safe using Facebook, which is why we have policies in place prohibiting direct threats, attacks, serious threats of harm to public and personal safety and other criminal activity. We give people tools to report content that violates our policies, and take swift action to remove violating content when it’s reported to us. We sympathize with the victim’s family, who suffered such a tragic and senseless loss.” – Natalie Naugle, Facebook Associate General Counsel

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